By Tony Attwood
If you follow any football outside of England, you are likely to know that Barcelona are in a financial mess the likes of which football has never seen before.
To keep it short, according to the European press, they have been forced to sell their future broadcasting rights, and other bits and pieces, just to be allowed to register the new players they have bought this season. It is a total financial meltdown.
And now, having presented their financial details to the commission that is there to ensure that all clubs do abide by the rules, they have been found to be cheating.
So on top of the fact that their future revenues are going to be massively reduced because the rights to them have been sold to finance companies that are helping keep Barceonla afloat, now they have been shown to be… well, yes, cheating the regulator. It’s the only phrase I can think of.
They have done this by declaring that the sale of their TV rights – which they directly control – has been at a higher price than it actually was – by around 150 million euros.
Now of course just declaring that this money was received was not enough to fool anyone, so Barcelona then showed that the money did indeed come into its accounts. Look, they said, (or I imagine they said) here it is. Lots of lovely euros all stacked in our bank account. Now we can register our players, and indeed buy another one with all that money there.
Except it turns out that Joan Laporta, the president of the club, took 150 million out of his own bank accounts, and filtered it through a financial company before it then turned up in Barcelona’s books, showing (they said) that they were now doing everything by LaLiga’s regulations. Because this is Barcelona, and they always play fair.
As a result Robert Lewandowski is not qualified by the Spanish LaLiga to play for Barcelona because Barcelona have failed the league’s financial requirements.
This story is of course all over the Spanish media, and basically it says that although Barça officially claimed that it sold the rights for 667 million, Sixth Street the financial company that has bought the rights actually only paid 517. Barça FC therefore put in the difference in order to mislead the League.
But that’s not all. Sixth Street, who have given Barcelona the money to keep it going for the next 25 years, is a subsidiary of Key Capital, whose secretary general, is Anash Laghari, a person closely linked to Florentino Pérez, who is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, the President of Real Madrid.
Anyway, the trick has unravelled as these things have a habit of doing, and La Liga has said they will only accept 517 million as being paid to Barcelona, and that if it wants to play in the league this season Barcelona needs to sell another loads of assets worth around 200 million euros. in order to stay in line with the financial fair play regulations that they not only have in place but (unlike in England) actually stick to.
At the heart of the matter are the contracts of three new recruits who have recently joined the club, namely Lewandowski, Koundé and Raphinha. Their salaries are said to come in at 80 million euros for this coming season alone.
As things stand under Spanish Financial Fair Play rules, the club simply does not have the assets to be able to register those players so they can either sell off another load of assets first – which could be actual (rather than make-believe) TV rights, or some more players.
So Laporta is trying to do the latter and get rid of de Jong and Depay to clubs in England.
And one more thing. This is all about getting Barcelona able to play in the league in 2022/23. They haven’t even started looking at the regulations for what happens after that.
Nor has anyone started to consider what punishment Barcelona will get for trying to defraud the financial regulators.
They are, in short, a bunch of basket cases, pretending that everything is ok, and it is the nasty league and its silly regulations that are causing all these problems. Unfortunately the rest of Spanish football don’t actually see it that way.
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